ACTNews, PINRANG - The splashing river flow has become a natural music in Makula Hamlet, Betteng Village, Lembang Subdistrict, Pinrang Regency of South Sulawesi. Not many people live in the village, only a dozen homes that consist of hundreds of residents. They are Muslim converts who choose to live communally on Pinrang highlands.
With poor cellular signal, Makula seems to be isolated from the hustle and bustle of Indonesian cities. Guntur, one of the local community leaders, said they did have no problem living in an isolated area, for they feel quite calm. "We are living in serenity here, especially after knowing about Islam," he said last April.
A mosque stands in the middle of the village. The construction hasn't fully finished. The dome is not as big as other mosques in big cities. However, this mosque is the only place where Makula residents can pray and study Islam.
Guntur said that the converts who live in the village previously lived in several other villages in Lembang Subdistrict. After converting to Islam, some chose to move because they want to learn more about Islam and leave their bad habits and environment.
Since last January, Masyarakat Relawan Indonesia (MRI) Pinrang volunteers have reached this village after hearing about Muslim converts who are in need of assistance. Miftahul Jannah Wasnur from the MRI Pinrang team said, in Makula, the locals still need to learn more about Islam. Previously, there was no mosque in the village. "MRI Pinrang volunteers were the first to make a call to prayer in Makula, in the village mosque. We are determined to continue to echo the spirit of Islam for the people of Makula," said Miftah, Monday (9/2).
Based on the team’s observation, in Lembang Subdistrict, there are 200 families of Muslim converts. A small number of them are concentrated in Makula, while the rest are scattered in several other villages. Miftahul said that there are possibly more Muslim converts in Lembang because there are several other locations that have not been mapped.
Although they have embraced Islam for quite a long time, the converts in Lembang still do not know much about Islam. There are even still some people who do not understand how to perform wudu. "The Muslim converts here are still in dire need of religious assistance," Miftah added.
Living in an isolated area
To get to Makula Hamlet in Betteng Village, one needs to drive for two hours, around 63 kilometers from the center of Pinrang Regency trough a rocky mountain road.
The roads in the village are difficult to traverse. The cliffs and ravines have forced anyone who crosses to walk carefully. With such difficult terrain, cars and other four-wheeled vehicles cannot reach the village. To get there, we must use motorcycles that are in good condition. Located 1,200 meters above sea level, the air in Makula is cold and chilly. "Along the road to the village, there are 18 landslide-prone areas. The only option to get to Makula is by motorcycle or on foot,” explained, Hasbullah, a local resident in mid-August.
A river flows right in front of the village. The water comes from the surrounding mountains, making the source of clean water abundant. However, when it rains heavily, the water volume increase drastically, creating a strong current. There is no permanent bridge as a way in and out of the village, only stones that were arranged like a path to help the residents to cross the river.
There are no public facilities other than the mosque. The nearest Junior High School is 10-kilometer-away, while the closest Elementary School is 20-kilometer-away and kindergarten 15-kilometer-away. The closest health facility is 10-kilometer-away. But the only hospital is 63-kilometer-away at the town center.
Miftah said that the assistance to the residents of Makula continues. ACT also helps the residents of Makula to celebrate Islamic holidays such as Eid Al-Adha. However, the residents have been living in difficult condition. For instance, they don't even have a bridge to help them cross the river. "We carry out various kinds of assistance programs besides religious assistance. Now we are planning to conduct entrepreneurship training and empowerment program by helping to process the main commodity of the village such as coffee and chicken feed, "said Miftah.